Saturday, November 10, 2007

A little Saturday night ramble

I'm way ahead of schedule on NaNoWriMo and have finished the books I planned to review this week so my mind has been flitting around like a butterfly and keeps landing on the same subject: vampires. I know. It's pretty much a given that vampires are in now and will be out later and will come around and be popular again in a year or two -- or do they ever really go out of style? I blame my ruminations on Ray Bradbury and reading his short stories (I got a new book: One More For the Road), which always send my mind following thoughts of all kinds, and we're back to vampires again.

Part of this is also due to the new prime time vampire show, Moonlight. The two stars aren't even American, but they do great American accents (Sophia Myles is British and Alex O'Loughlin is Australian) and they are very nice to watch. Sophia isn't a stick insect and Alex is delectable.

The show also has *gasp* an American playing Josef Kostantin who is a very young (25) vampire over 400 years old who is the dark force in the show, except that he does have morals and rules and is very adamant about keeping a low profile -- or as low a profile as a multi-billionaire vampire who loves fast cars and beautiful women can have. He is also Mick St. John's friend and employer on occasion (Alex O'Loughlin). There is also the lovely and bloody-minded Coraline (Mick's ex-wife who was killed in a fire -- Alex killed her for kidnapping and trying to turn Beth (Sophia Myles) when she was a child) who is a dyed-in-the-wool evil vamp, in all senses of the word. The actress playing Coraline is also American, and until last night was seen only in flashback. Okay, back to the subject that has been on my mind -- vampires.

It occurred to me when Josef asked Mick when he was going to stop hating himself and wanting to be human again that there is definitely something wrong in the ocean city (LA) and everywhere you look where there are vampires. They are either demons with souls who dream of being human after a centuries-long run and hate who they are or romantic demons doomed without the love of a human woman to rescue them from hell and despair. What's up with that? There's also the whole afraid of crucifixes but not other religious symbols, but that's a whole other subject for another time. Considering humans are writing about vampires, I guess there is no other way to see them except as fiends, demons and evil with a hidden potential for good as long as they loathe who and what they are.

I get the whole killing and feeding on humans angle and how that can be disturbing, but in a very real sense isn't that what humans do to animals? Okay, most humans are not comfortable with the idea of being nothing more than an animal to feed another species, but I'm sure elands and zebras don't particularly care for being chased, killed and eaten by lions and hyenas and jackals either. It's all a matter of perspective (where have I heard that phrase before...?).

Despite seeing vampires as more of a religious construct designed to bring people fleeing back to church (in the Xian sense) to save them from damnation, and the idea that a soul can be lost, sold or bartered, vampires are just another species, another step on the food chain, predators who prey on humans to keep the population down -- and to give lonely women a visceral thrill. Vampires are a symbol of wish fulfillment, a chance to live beyond the short years granted us by nature (and degradation of the genetic code) and be more in the world than we as human with our blunted senses can be. Vampires are beyond the usual constraints of work, responsibility, duty and the humdrum everyday life. They are rebels that don't have to apologize for being different, except if a vampire longs to be human again, taste a steak and eat French fries, and get off a perpetual liquid diet (that alone is enough to make a vampire want to be human -- or at least bite something someone), to sink their teeth into something solid that just happens to be a human. Of course, rats, puppies and kittens are also on the menu when times are tough or food is scarce.

Vampires are another evolutionary step in Nature's whimsical --and possibly darker -- plan. After all, Nature created the platypus. Like so much of history that historians and archaeologists and scientists will remake in their own image, vampires are cursed, not with the loss of a soul or providing housing for a demon, but with humanity's idea of them as fiends and romantic figures that but for the want of love and a soul would be better, would be human. And yet we long for their powers to see more clearly, feel more deeply, experience the world more fully and be above and outside human laws, to be able to ignore Death's touch (unless there's a stake, fire or loss of head involved) and to remain ever young drinking from Countess Bathory's bloody Fountain of Youth while sneering at Time. It's no wonder we paint vampires in such clashing colors since we cannot reconcile our own feelings of love and hate.

Are vampires Nature's agents preying on humans to keep our numbers in check? Are we any better than the government being paid to decimate and eradicate the only check on over population, like the planned hunt of gray wolves in the northern Rockies? Do we need, and would we accept, vampires as another species instead of cursed agents of evil? Or do we need to see ourselves in a more honest and realistic light?

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